The U.S. and Mexico announced plans to bolster a shared patent process called the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) that aims to speed up secondary patent approvals, where patent protection is desired in both countries.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) have strengthened an agreement they implemented to help along applications once they find initial approval. The heads of both offices have signed off on the deal, which enhances a prior program set to expire on June 30 of 2020.

Getting patents up to speed

When the USPTO grants you a patent, the PPH pact allows you to ask for an expedited claim when the IMPI takes a look. One of the big ways the plan slims down the application is by cutting out repeat work. Each patent office can use the search and examination findings from the office of first filing.

Global acceptance

This accelerated process isn’t novel to the U.S. and Mexico, as delays are bad for business wherever you are. London Economics found that patents stuck in the application process in the USPTO, the Japan Patent Office and the European Patent Office cost the worldwide economy $10 billion every year.

For just this reason, patent offices around the world are engaging in PPH programs to cut down on wait times. The U.S. has deals in place so you can take advantage of benefits with over 25 countries or regions, from Brazil to Europe to China. While the start dates have varied for each accord, the USPTO and the IMPI began cooperating at this level in 2011, with the most recent extension in 2015.

New process, old concerns

The cooperation is a good sign for getting your patent through in a timely manner, but you’ll still need a successful application to reap the benefits. Even after the USPTO gives you the green light, your patent will need to make the grade in Mexico. But if you make sure your patent is ready for the process, you could get some help jumping ahead in line.